Dwellingup train station, at night, in May, is probably not the smartest move if you are a cold blooded animal like me who craves the warmth of Perth's summer heat. However, I braved the chill and was rewarded with a remarkably restored historic diesel locomotive with two beautifully maintained 1919 vintage dining cars.
Staying true to era, there is no central heating within the dining car but the chill was quickly forgotten as over 40 diners were squeezed onto tables in the dining cars. A sense of nostalgia was felt onboard the carriage with period wallpaper and photos decorating the walls and lacework lining the tables.
As the train left Dwellingup train station on its 8km journey to Etmilyn and back along the state's last surviving lightly built developmental railway, the outside was gently lit from the train providing wonderful scenery of Jarrah forest to accompany dinner. The train was authentically loud and rickety, ideal background music for dinner.
Perfectly fitting for an historic train ride, was the traditional roast dinner. Who can knock back meat and 3 vegetables when you are riding a train from 1919? And I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who did not enjoy the apple crumble for dessert, cooked exactly to your mother's generational traditional recipe. The 5 course dinner served over the 2.5 hour train journey was simple but tasty.
So, for those romantics out there who think the train would be a nice place to propose – I would say find somewhere else. A double date would work but a romantic twosome is probably not appropriate unless you struggle to converse with your partner as all tables are filled with four people, whether you know them or not.
The Etmilyn Forest Diner (Hotham Valley Restaurant Train) operates every Saturday night and selected Friday nights. It is expensive at $77 per person, $99 if you catch the shuttle bus from Perth or Armadale to Dwellingup but it is an experience worth its money, taking you back to yesteryear. Bookings are required and can be made on 08 62781111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org